Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 9:20pm
In tiny Green Bay sits a No. 2 quarterback who's played in just three NFL games and remains a mystery to many. But Scott Tolzien just might be one of the top 32 signal callers in the league.
And it would be a surprise to absolutely no one if Tolzien is steering a quarterback-starved franchise by 2016.
"Could he start in this league? I don't see why he couldn't," Packers quarterbacks and wide receivers coach Alex Van Pelt said. "I think he's had an exceptional camp."
Tolzien has certainly looked like that during another stellar summer in Green Bay. And Tolzien, who will become an unrestricted free agent next March, is putting together some impressive résumé tape for the rest of the league to study, the story said. Last month, NFL.com ranked the backup quarterbacks from 1 to 32 and listed Tolzien at No. 21. When several Packers were told of that in recent weeks, they all laughed, the piece added.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 9:17pm
Thaddeus Lewis doesn’t see Saturday’s preseason game against Tampa Bay any differently than the previous two.
In the veteran quarterback’s eyes, his job remains the same. The only difference is he’s one step closer to the top of the depth chart.
Lewis likely will serve as the Browns’ second and final quarterback against the Buccaneers. Johnny Manziel is expected to be sidelined because of a sore elbow, and Connor Shaw remains out indefinitely with an injured thumb, leaving Lewis and starter Josh McCown as the two healthy options behind center for Cleveland’s most important game before the regular season.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Lewis said. “You have to go out there and show that you’re capable of stepping in and the offense not losing a beat as if Josh or Johnny was in there. Josh is the starter and you put another guy in, can he continue to do the job that a starter would do, and that’s the opportunity I would have Saturday, and that’s what I look forward to doing.”
Renck: I am not ready to say Ball's roster spot is in jeopardy. But clearly he needs to finish strong, beginning in the third week vs. the 49ers. Ronnie Hillman zoomed past him on the depth chart by leading the NFL with 120 yards in the first two preseason games. Ball has long gain of 12 yards, and 18 yards on his other 11 carries. That's not cutting it. I don't know if he's over thinking it or what, but he should be better in this offense. Juwan Thompson has played well and excels on special teams.
For Ball, the clock is ticking to make an impression on the new coaching staff. Without real improvement, anything is possible.
Hillman has gained a lot of press this camp and looks like he has the RB2 job behind C.J. Anderson. Once projected as the team's RB1, Ball seems to be sliding down the depth chart. Given how the team went deep into their RB stash last year, they may not be in a hurry to part ways with Ball. Thompson's ability on special teams would only help his cause.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 8:42pm
Aaron Rodgers already made it clear how he feels about preseason games, so it surely wouldn't break his heart if he doesn't take another snap before the Green Bay Packers' regular-season opener on Sept. 13 at Chicago.
With three of his five starting offensive linemen likely out for Saturday's preseason home opener against the Eagles, that's probably not a bad idea.
In Wednesday's practice, Rodgers' reps were lighter than they've been all training camp -- he took only the first snap in most team drills and no more than three in the others. That could be a sign coach Mike McCarthy does not plan to play him at all the rest of the preseason, which finishes with a Sept. 3 game against the Saints.
McCarthy pulled Rodgers after the first quarter of Sunday's game at Pittsburgh after backup left tackle Don Barclay allowed Rodgers to get sacked for a safety. Rodgers took a hit on his right hand and was seen icing it on the sideline. After the game, the one in which receiver Jordy Nelson was lost for the season because of a knee injury, Rodgers referred to preseason games as "meaningless."
In the Mile-High City, the San Francisco 49ers offense mostly kept the ball on the ground on Wednesday.
And while Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush, Mike Davis and Jarryd Hayne all got their reps, the featured runner for the first day of the team’s joint practices with the Denver Broncos was none other than Kendall Hunter.
It appears as if Hunter, who missed 2014 with an ACL injury, has little-to-no lingering effects from the lost season.
The fifth-year running back began team periods with the first unit and went on to receive a hefty amount of touches. He recorded several lengthy carries, cutting up the field with ease. He also caught a couple passes out of the backfield and deployed some nifty moves to get past the first wave of defenders. Denver's front seven includes the likes of Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan. Hunter ranks below Hyde and Bush on our RB list.
But if his backup can be productive enough, the Chiefs may continue to give Charles a lighter load once games start to count, keeping Charles fresher over the 16-game grind than he has been the past couple of years.
"You just want to see that steady No. 2 running back right now that can come in in a pinch or come in and give Jamaal some needed rest, and has that explosiveness," Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. "He's more of your downhill type of runner."
HC Andy Reid has always rode his RB1 since his days with the Eagles so it will be interesting to see if they try to limit Charles' workload in games. One thing is for sure, Davis makes a great handcuff for Charles owners and has proven that he can carry the load. He's getting a lot of reps in camp so far.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 5:56pm
Niklas reinjured a hamstring injury he initially suffered training this offseason, coach Bruce Arians said. He began training camp on the non-football injury list because of the injury but returned two weeks ago. There isn’t a timetable for Niklas’ return from his current injury.
“We don’t know how long that’s going to be,” Arians said.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 5:54pm
The Oakland Raiders got back three key players from injury Wednesday.
Third-down running back Roy Helu (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday as Oakland begins preparing for Sunday’s home preseason game against Arizona.
Helu, who signed as a free agent from Washington, has missed all but a couple of days of training camp. He is expected to be a key contributor on offense.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 5:51pm
The veteran running back played four snaps vs. the 49ers. He carried three times for four yards and caught one pass for three yards.
"I feel good. I came out yesterday and was just a little sore," McFadden said after Wednesday's morning walk-through. "But I definitely feel good and I'll be out there today."
McFadden played in all 16 games last season. It was the first time during his seven years in Oakland that he didn't miss a game because of injury. He said Wednesday that he's not looking to be cautious with his workload during the preseason or regular season. McFadden also said he "definitely" expects to play Saturday in Dallas' third preseason game.
It was a sign of progress, but coach Bruce Arians said there is still not an estimate on when Floyd will return.
"He’s doing extremely well, so no, I don’t think there is an exact timetable," Arians said. "I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s ready (for Week 1), knowing Michael."
The Cardinals open the regular season Sept. 13 at home against New Orleans.
Floyd’s stitches were removed on Aug. 18, almost two weeks after he had surgery to repair three dislocated fingers in his left hand. Floyd has been working on his conditioning with assistant strength and conditioning coach Roger Kingdom before and after practices.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker was in full uniform for Wednesday’s practice. And he went through a few individual drills during the part of practice media was allowed to watch.
But officially, Parker was listed as “out” for the session.
Parker, who had a screw replaced in his left foot in June, said it’s feasible he could contribute early in the season despite not participating in training camp.
“That’s the plan,” said Parker, “but you never know. You’ve just go out there and see how you can do.”
It's at least a good sign Parker is getting closer. While it may be tough to jump right into the offense, it may be hard to keep him off the field once he's a full go. The story said the Dolphins’ first-round pick who has been sidelined while recovering from foot surgery has looked impressive during offseason workouts at least. Unfortunately, there is still no timetable for his return to the field.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 4:15pm
DeMarco Murray was asked how he expects the rotation to play out. Will the RBs alternate series? Will they spell one another during a drive?
"I don't think it will be alternating series," Murray said. "But [Mathews] is a quality back, great guy, works extremely hard. I'm sure he'll get his fair share of touches. But I don't know how the rotation will be yet, we haven't touched on it."
Murray is unsure of how many snaps he'll get in Green Bay this Saturday, but expect his workload to increase in the dress rehearsal. Starters typically play an entire half, if not more, in the penultimate preseason game.
The Eagles like to run a lot of plays so it's possible Murray still gets a solid workload with perhaps Mathews getting 8-10 touches. Sproles could mix in but is expected to get most of his work in the passing, even though he proved to be a nice weapon running the ball last year. As long as the Eagles offense is clicking, Murray owners shouldn't worry too much about the Birds crowded backfield.
While Shula says it's a major loss, he points out the Panthers still have plenty of offensive talent even with Benjamin sidelined with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Shula said the Panthers will likely replace Benjamin's production at wide receiver "by committee," but is quick to add "eventually there might be a guy that emerges" into that No. 1 role.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Benjamin set Carolina rookie franchise records last season with 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns, so he will be missed.
Shula pointed to Corey Brown, rookie Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn Jr. as guys who are capable of filling that void at wide receiver — although the starting lineup hasn't been settled, the story said. Brown and Ginn are considered speed guys with big play ability, while Funchess is more of a possession receiver. Brown was an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State who emerged late in the season before suffering an injury. Ginn had one of his most productive seasons two years ago for the Panthers before signing with Arizona last season and then returning to Carolina this year. Funchess is our highest rated Carolina WR coming in at 39th on our list. We have Brown next at 67th.
Add Eddie Royal to the list of the walking wounded among Bears receivers. Royal missed Wednesday's practice at Halas Hall with a hip injury, further depleting the offense of playmakers and causing yet another round of shuffling as the Bears ready for Saturday night's exhibition game in Cincinnati.
Coach John Fox stamped his standard "day to day" label on Royal. But that, of course, means very little. When training camp began, the Bears referred to Kevin White as "day to day" with a shin injury. White, however, may now be lost for the season after having surgery this weekend to repair a stress fracture in his left shin.
Said quarterback Jay Cutler: "I've never been a part of anything like that — all four (top receivers) going down like that. It's a great opportunity for these (other) guys and it's given me an opportunity to work with them and do some hands-on stuff with them."
Alshon Jeffery has been "day to day" with a calf strain since Aug. 12 and was still not back at practice on Wednesday. Marquess Wilson also did not practice, dealing with a hamstring issue. So if you're keeping count, the Bears' top four receivers are now unavailable. Next men up: Josh Bellamy, Marc Mariani, Rashad Lawrence and Cam Meredith.
Ertz underwent core muscle surgery on Aug. 14 and was expected to miss the entire preseason with an eye towards the season opener as a return date.
"No comment yet," Ertz told NJ Advance Media following Tuesday's practice at the NovaCare Complex when asked if he was still on target for playing Week 1. "I should know soon, though."
On Monday Ertz was seen catching balls from the JUGS machine and getting extra work in after practice for the first time since suffering the injury earlier this month. To make it worse for fantasy owners, the Eagles play Monday night of Week 1. Brent Celek is a possible late, emergency replacement at the position if you're really counting on Ertz.